Check into all of your potential rebates. You know there are rebates, correct? The government (in certain states) has a bunch of ways that they'll reward you for taking the solar energy plunge. And there are also benefits during tax season. Look into them all so you'll get every penny coming back to you.
Try to choose solar panels that can have their angles adjusted easily. The angle at which the sun hits the Earth changes throughout the year. This means that the best angle to catch the suns rays can be very different between summer and winter. Ideally you want to at least be able to adjust the angle of your panels twice a year, however if you can find some that allow adjustments four times a year (spring, summer, fall, winter) that is even better.
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Try using a clothes line to dry your clothes. This is an older idea that works just as well. Rather than drying clothes in the dryer, hang them outside on nice days. This will save energy, which in turn will save money.
When you are figuring out the return on your solar power investment, do not forget that you can sell back energy to your utility company if you generate a surplus. This is usually in the form of a credit on your utility bills. Even though the initial investment may be hefty, the long-term financial benefits is there for the taking.